David's Reviews > City

City by Clifford D. Simak
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Oct 10, 11

bookshelves: science-fiction
Read from September 22 to October 05, 2011

Science fiction doesn't always age well. When it attempts to predict the future, most often reality takes a different course. Stuff that seemed plausible in the early 50's (City was published as a collection of connected short stories in 1952) seems downright silly now. Such is the case here. I can overlook some technological assumptions that an author made to establish his setting, but the quality of the story itself has to make up for it.

Simak takes the nuclear power wet dream of electricity being "too cheap to meter" (whether that could've been true or not is moot) and extrapolates. Hydroponic farming displaces traditional farming and everyone owns electric helicopters. With no need for amber waves of grain, there's plenty of room for people to spread out. No roads are necessary because people use their helicopters. Therefore, cities are no longer necessary as land is cheap and access to it is easy. While far-fetched, it isn't out of the realm of possibilities.

From here it gets worse: terrible inaccuracies about Jupiter, an abandoned plotline involving Martians, the human race so full of self-loathing that people either abandon their bodies for alien ones or wither into ennui, and all the animals of the world living together in perfect harmony. I'm not exaggerating here.

"Epilog" was added for the 1981 printing and reflects an improvement in Simak's writing over three decades. While it doesn't change anything that came before, it does provide the book with a solid ending rather than the wishy washy one it originally had.
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